Tory MPs warned they will lose election if they ditch Boris Johnson

Warning comes after PM booed by crowd at St Paul’s Cathedral thanksgiving service

'Substantial' booing for Boris Johnson as he arrives for Queen’s Jubilee service

Conservative MPs have been warned they risk losing their seats if they ditch Boris Johnson as leader.

Despite the prime minister’s current unpopularity, which saw him booed by voters as he arrived for the platinum jubilee thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, a government source said he remained “an election-winning machine”.

Mr Johnson is fighting back against demands from his own MPs for a confidence vote on his leadership, which could come as early as next week.

More than 40 Tory MPs have openly called for his removal, with at least 17 submitting no-confidence letters to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, who must call a vote if the total reaches 54.

Last month’s publication of Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal has prompted a wave of new letters, and Mr Johnson’s supporters fear that pressure for his removal will intensify if Tories lose by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton on 23 June.

Speaking to the i newspaper, a senior government source said that none of the potential alternative Tory leaders had the same ability as Mr Johnson to attract voters in the “red wall” constituencies in the Midlands and North that were seized from Labour in 2019.

“If you chuck Boris, you blow the red wall apart,” said the source. “He is the only leader that holds it together.

“The mandate that Boris was given in 2019 was vast, and he reaches parts of the country that no Conservative leader has in a generation.

“It’s a huge, huge call, two years from an election, to tell an election-winning machine that time is up.”

The source also said that Mr Johnson was better placed than his potential replacements to defend the traditionally Tory “blue wall” seats that are under pressure from Liberal Democrats in the south and rural areas.

“Boris has shown that he understands the traditional blue wall sensibility, and it will be important for him in time to want to then prove and show that,” said the source.

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